skip to main content
Main Milestones
The Ocean Conference
Addis Ababa Action Agenda
Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction
Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Paris Agreement
SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway
High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, RIO +20: the Future We Want
Five-year review of the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation: MSI+5
BPOA+10: Mauritius Strategy of Implementation
World Summit on Sustainable (WSSD) Rio+10: Johannesburg Plan of Implementation
Bardados Programme of Action (BPOA)+5
UNGASS -19: Earth Summit +5
Bardados Programme of Action (BPOA)
Start of CSD
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development: Agenda 21
Our Common Future
United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Conference)
Creation of UNEP
Embedding the Environment in Sustainable Development Goals
UNEP, 2013
by: United Nations Environment

One of the principal outcomes of Rio+20 was the call to produce a set of universally applicable sustainable
development goals (SDGs) that balance the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable
development. This Paper provides advice and guidance on how environmental sustainability can be incorporated in the SDGs.

An analysis of current environmental goals and targets shows that the successful ones are built on general support from society and a scientific consensus that the problem exists and is urgent. The ones making most progress tend to be embedded in effective governance regimes, and be easier to implement because solutions are readily available. A key to success also seems to be that goals are underpinned by specific and measurable targets.

After considering the above and other lessons from current goals, the following framework is proposed forembedding environment in the SDGs:

1. A rationale and overarching vision for the SDGs, which is a narrative describing the basis for including
environmental sustainability in the SDGs;

2. An integrated approach for embedding environment in goals and targets which proposes basic
characteristics and types of goals and targets to be selected;

3. A set of six criteria for assessing or proposing goals and targets, and guidance on how to use them.

The criteria are: (i) Strong linkage of environment with socio-economic developmental goals; (ii) Decoupling
of socio-economic development from escalating resource use and environmental degradation; (iii)
Coverage of critical issues of environmental sustainability such as important irreversible changes in the
global environment; (iv) Take into account current global environmental goals and targets, (v) Scientifically
credible and verifiable; and (vi) Progress must be “trackable”.

4. A list of best practices for selecting indicators that can effectively support targets.
The framework and other ideas presented in the Paper are meant to stimulate a dialogue on environmental
sustainability and the SDGs.


Download PDF